On this day in 1989 the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the death of Salman Rushdie for blasphemy, due to his book The Satanic Verses.
Rushdie's work had already produced furious protests from some British Muslims who called for his head (literally). He was to spend much of the 1990s in hiding, protected by armed police.
In discussions on Islamism in Britain, the Ahmadiyya community is frequently portrayed as peaceful, law-abiding and opposed to extremism. Not least as they are so often denounced and even attacked by other Muslims, who accuse them of rejecting Islamic orthodoxy that Muhammad was the last prophet, in place of their founder Ghulam Ahmad. In 1984 the Ahmadis found their religious activism banned in Pakistan, and in 2010 86 of their members were gunned down in Lahore.
All the more interesting on this day, to consider how Ahmahdis view Salman Rushdie. Their main statement on the Rusdie affair is the 1997 book "Rushdie: Haunted by his unholy ghosts" written by Arshad Ahmedi at the request of the global leader of the Ahmadis, Mizra Masoor Ahmad. Ahmedi is convinced there is something sinister behind Rushdie's book, insisting on p.6 that Rushdie cannot be the sole author. He declares:
"All the signs point to a conspiracy between the Jews and the Christians in collusion with a mercenary, or indeed a modern day Faust. It was as if this union or marriage was devised and made, not in Heaven, but the other place."
Arshad Ahmedi "Rushdie: Haunted by his Own Ghosts" (London: Avon Books, 1997) p. 6
Perhaps the Ahmadis are not so different from their detractors after all.....